#5/8 James Madison vs. Saint Francis
Opening The Season With A Pair at Home: The James Madison football squad starts the 2012 season with two games at Bridgeforth Stadium, starting with tonight's contest against the Saint Francis Red Flash. The second will be next Saturday, Sept. 8, when Alcorn State comes to town for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
The Coaches: James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (West Texas State, '76) is in his 13th season at JMU and as a head coach overall with an 96-61 record.
Saint Francis Head Coach Chris Villarrial (Indiana (Pa.), '96) is in his third year as head coach of the Red Flash and overall, sporting a 3-19 record.
History With Saint Francis: Today's contest is first meeting between the Dukes and the Red Flash and just the second time that Madison has played a team from the Northeast Conference. Last year, JMU opened against Central Connecticut State, getting out with a 14-9 victory.
Opening the Season Has Mixed Results: As a NCAA varsity program JMU is 19-18-1 in season-opening games, but since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) in 1980, the Dukes are 15-17 in season-openers.
In the FCS, JMU has started a season against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent 10 times (0-10 record), an FCS opponent 15 times (8-7 record) and a Division II opponent seven times (7-0 record).
Under Matthews, JMU is 7-6 in season-opening games, including 0-5 against FBS teams, 3-1 against FCS teams and 4-0 against Division II teams.
In season-opening games under Matthews, JMU lost in 1999 at Virginia Tech 47-0, defeated Lock Haven 72-0 in 2000, beat Elon 42-21 in 2001, lost to Hampton 31-28 in 2002, defeated Liberty 48-6 in 2003, beat Lock Haven 62-7 in 2004 and 56-0 in 2005, defeated Bloomsburg 14-3 in 2006, lost at North Carolina 37-14 in 2007, lost 31-7 at Duke in 2008, dropped 2009 's season opener at Maryland in overtime, 38-35, won in 2010 against Morehead State, 48-7, and lost last year's opener at North Carolina, 42-10.
The First at Home Tends To Be Good: Bridgeforth Stadium has been the home to many happy openings for the Dukes. Since its start in 1973, JMU is now 29-10 (.746) in the first home game of the year and it is even more impressive under current Head Coach Mickey Matthews, as his squads are 12-1 (.923) in the first contest at Bridgeforth each year, including a current nine-game winning streak. The only home opener loss under Matthews as in the 2002 season, a tough 31-28 defeat to Hampton.
Preseason All-America Honors: James Madison's Earl Watford, Stephon Robertson and Dae'Quan Scott were named Preseason All-Americans by The Sports Network, the organization announced. Watford was a first-team selection at offensive guard, while Robertson and Scott were on the third team at linebacker and all-purpose, respectively.
Additionally, JMU had five players named to their respective position watch lists by College Football Performance Awards, the organization announced. Scott was named to the running back list, with redshirt-senior Brian Barlow named to the 25-person tight end watch list. Robertson was named to the linebackers' watch list while redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke and redshirt-senior punter David Skahn earned spots on their respective lists.
National Rankings: JMU has come into the 2012 season with high expectations both from the coaches and the media, according to their respective polls. The Dukes are ranked sixth in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll, while being in the No. 5 slot in The Sports Network Preseason Poll, which is voted on by sports information, media members, broadcasters and other dignitaries.
The Dukes have earned significant recognition in several national preseason publications, with four of the five putting JMU in the top five. Phil Steele's Annual picks JMU second in their preseason rankings, while USA Today has Madison fourth. Athlon College Football and College Sporting News both have James Madison in the fifth spot, while Lindy's College Football picked the squad 13th nationally.
Preseason Conference Poll: In the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Poll as voted on by the league's coaches, Madison was picked to finish third in the league. Towson was selected as the preseason favorite, followed by Old Dominion and the Dukes.
New Hampshire picked up two first-place votes and was fourth in the poll, followed by Delaware, Maine, William & Mary and Villanova in the top eight. Richmond was ninth with Rhode Island and Georgia State rounding out the league's teams.
Preseason All-CAA Awards: Redshirt-senior offensive lineman Earl Watford, redshirt-senior h-back/tight end Brian Barlow, redshirt-junior linebacker Stephon Robertson and redshirt-junior return specialist/running back Dae'Quan Scott were selected to the CAA's 25-man preseason squad.
Bringing Back A Solid Core of Returners: The Dukes return 46 letterwinners, including 16 starters, back to the 2012 squad. Madison has six returners on offense, led by quarterback Justin Thorpe, running back Dae'Quan Scott and lineman Earl Watford, while the defense has seven returners, paced by linebacker Stephon Robertson, lineman Tyler Snow and safety Jakarie Jackson. Madison also returns all three key specialists in kicker Cameron Starke, punter David Skahn and snapper Chris Beaver.
Last Year's Bridgeforth Crowds Set Records: There is no question that Sept. 10, 2010's crowd for the home opener against Central Connecticut State was the largest in Bridgeforth Stadium history at that time. With an attendance of 25,102, the total surpassed the previous high of 17,163 when JMU posted a dramatic 35-32 come-from-behind win over Appalachian State on Sept. 20, 2008. In fact, all five games last season surpassed the previous high, with the tops coming in the Homecoming victory over Richmond at 25,742. Last year, the Dukes ranked second in the nation in average attendance at 25,002 fans per game and the 125,010 set a new school record for regular season attendance.
Matthews Closing In On the Century Mark: JMU Head Coach Mickey Matthews is closing in on a historic milestone in his coaching career. In his 14th season at the helm of the Dukes, Matthews is just four wins away from having 100 victories in his coaching career. He is currently tied for 24th on the FCS career active victories list, tied with New Hampshire's Sean McDonnell. There are three in the top 25 looking to move up into the 100-victory club. He is also 22nd in career winning percentage at .611.
Home Is Where the Heart (And the Victories) Are: The Dukes are tough to beat at Bridgeforth Stadium under Head Coach Mickey Matthews. In his 13 years at the helm, Matthews has led his squad to a solid 58-19 (.753) record in Harrisonburg. What makes that more impressive is that eight of the losses occurred during a two-year span (2001-02) when the Dukes had a combined overall record of 7-16 (JMU was 2-9 in 2001 and 5-7 in 2002). Last year, JMU was 4-1 at home, its ninth-straight .500 or better season at home.
Additionally, Madison has only lost two non-conference games at home, and only one regular-season, out-of-league home tilt, under Matthews in 24 contests. The two losses were in the 2002 home opener against Hampton and the 2008 National Semifinal against Montana.
Matthews' JMU Home Mark
Year Overall Conf.
1999 5-0 4-0
2000 6-0 4-0
2001 1-4 0-4
2002 3-4 2-3
2003 5-1 3-1
2004 5-1 3-1
2005 5-1 3-1
2006 5-0 4-0
2007 5-1 3-1
2008 8-1 4-0
2009 3-2 2-2
2010 3-3 1-3
2011 4-1 3-1
Totals 58-19 36-17
Close Battles: JMU was in several battles in the 2011 season, with six decided by seven points or less. In those contests, the Dukes were 4-2, including a pair of last-play victories on field goals by then-sophomore kicker Cameron Starke.
Playoffs Expanding Again in 2013: Last year, JMU took advantage of the playoff expansion to 20 teams by grabbing one of the last slots in the 2011 FCS Playoffs and advancing to the second round after defeating Eastern Kentucky. Next year, the playoffs increase in participation again, as 24 teams will be selected for the field, 11 via auto bids as the Pioneer League's champion will now be automatically invited to the postseason. The top eight teams will be seeded, receive first-round byes and host second-round games. The 16 other teams will bid to host first-round games.
James Madison Football On TV: James Madison is no stranger to being televised and it holds true this year, as the Dukes are on the tube six times, with a pair of nationally-televised contests as part of the CAA's package. JMU will first be on television on Sept. 15 from FedEx Field as the West Virginia Game will be televised on Root Sports Pittsburgh. Following that, Madison will make its first of two appearances on NBC Sports Network when it hosts defending CAA champion Towson on Oct. 6, followed by a Comcast Sports Network broadcast of the William & Mary game on Oct. 13.. The Oct. 20 game at Richmond and Nov. 3 at Maine will be on Comcast as well, before the regular-season finale against Old Dominion Nov. 17 is on NBC Sports Network.
JMU Has 11 Players Earn 2011 All-CAA Awards: James Madison University showed the fruits of the program's late surge to the playoffs by placing 11 players on the All-Colonial Athletic Association teams, announced by the league today. The awards, voted on by the 11 CAA Football head coaches, were handed out following a 2011 season which saw as many as nine league squads ranked among the Top 25.
Three Dukes earned first team honors, as redshirt-junior offensive lineman Earl Watford, redshirt-senior defensive end D.J. Bryant and redshirt-sophomore linebacker Stephon Robertson all garnered the top-level accolade for the first time in their careers.
Madison picked up six awards on the second team, as redshirt-sophomore Dae'Quan Scott earned recognition at both running back and punt returner, with redshirt-senior offensive lineman Roane Babington, redshirt-junior h-back/tight end Brian Barlow, redshirt-senior linebacker Pat Williams and redshirt-junior punter David Skahn all joining Scott on the second team. Babington earned Second Team All-CAA for the second time in his career, while Scott was a third-team selection at punt returner last year.
Three more JMU players were honored with Third Team All-CAA awards, as redshirt-senior wide receiver Kerby Long, redshirt-senior defensive lineman Lamar Middleton and redshirt-freshman safety Dean Marlowe were named at their respective positions. Marlowe was one of just three defensive freshman in the league to earn All-CAA honors.
JMU Football History: The 2012 season is JMU's 41st season of football, its 39th varsity football season, its 34th season with football scholarship players and its 33rd season competing at what is now the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, formerly Division I-AA.
JMU began football in 1972, moved to a recognized varsity schedule in 1974, first awarded scholarships for the 1979 season and moved to Division I-AA in 1980. JMU moved from Division III to Division II in 1979 and to then-Division I-AA for the 1980 season.
JMU's top seasons in addition to winning the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA championship (13-2) have been in 2008 when the Dukes reached the FCS semifinals as the playoffs' top-seeded team and compiled a 12-2 record, 2007 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 2006 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1999 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1995 (8-4, NCAA playoffs), 1994 (10-3, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1991 (9-4, NCAA playoffs, second round), 1987 (9-3, NCAA playoffs), 1982 (8-3), 1978 (8-2, No. 9, Division III), and 1975 (9-0-1, College Division).
Last Time Out - Falling In the NCAA Second Round at North Dakota State: In its first game indoors since 1987, No. 17 James Madison was unable to put together consistent running game and lost 26-14 at No. 4 and No. 2 national seed and eventual national champion North Dakota State in the second round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship, Dec. 3.
For the first time since the season opener at North Carolina, the Dukes did not reach the 100-yard rushing mark as a team, finishing the game with 32 carries for 67 yards. NDSU also outgained the Dukes 329-301, rushing for 219 yards in the game.
Trailing 19-7, JMU got the ball back and used the aerial game to get on the board. Thorpe started it off with a 25-yard pass to redshirt-freshman wide receiver Daniel Brown to get the ball at the Bison 49. Then two plays later, redshirt-senior Kerby Long took the handoff in the wildcat formation, pulled up and threw a 35-yard strike to a wide open Thorpe for the touchdown to trim the margin to 19-14 with 7:26 left in the game.
NDSU got the ball back on its 40 after another kickoff out of bounds by the Dukes. The next play, D.J. McNorton went around the right side, broke a tackle and went in from 60 yards out for the score to put the margin back at 12, 26-14, with just over seven minutes remaining.
Redshirt-sophomore Dae'Quan Scott was the top rusher for JMU, carrying it 17 times for 63 yards, while Thorpe was 21-for-38-for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Redshirt-freshman Andre Coble had a career-high six catches for 34 yards. Redshirt-senior linebacker Vidal Nelson led JMU with 12 tackles while redshirt-sophomore linebacker chipped in 11 stops and a pass breakup. (Full recap on page 22).
Grinding It Out on the Ground: JMU's ground attack continued to be a struggle for opponents to handle in 2011. Last season, the Dukes were second in the Colonial Athletic Association and ranked 12th in the country at 222.54 yards per game.
Individually, then-redshirt-sophomore Dae'Quan Scott was fourth in the CAA and 24th nationally at 100.31 yards per contest while then-redshirt-sophomore Jordan Anderson was seventh in the league and 71st in the country at 66.00 yards a game. Additionally, lastseason marks the first time in Head Coach Mickey Matthews' tenure that he had two rushers post a rush of greater than 75 yards in a season. Anderson (80-yard rush vs. Maine) and Scott (76-yard rush vs. UMass) each completed the task last season.
Getting the Pressure Going: Part of the JMU defensive effort in 2011 resulted in getting to the quarterback. After having no sacks in the first two games, JMU posted 39 sacks in the last 11 games, including a season-high seven in the win over Richmond. That total led the CAA and ranked ninth nationally, averaging 3.00 sacks per game.
Controlling the Football A Key Factor For the Dukes: In JMU's 12 FCS games last season, the Dukes had a time of possession advantage in nine of them, going 8-1 in the those contests. The average difference in those nine games was 7:18, with the most a 21:00 difference in the NCAA Playoff road win at Eastern Kentucky Nov. 26. The only one that Madison did not win was the 23-20 loss at Old Dominion Oct. 29. The two games that Madison did not hold the advantage were the Maine game (a 25-24 overtime loss) and the New Hampshire road contest (a 28-10 loss).
Matthews The Winningest: Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) became the all-time leader in victories among JMU football coaches Sept. 27, 2008 in a 24-10 victory at Maine. The win gave the then-10th-year Dukes coach a 68-45 JMU record, which is now at 96-61 overall, which currently ranks 22nd among all active coaches in terms of winning percentage and tied for 24th in victories.
Challace McMillin (1972-84), JMU's first football coach, had a 67-56-1 record during 13 JMU seasons and held the program's previous coaching victories record. McMillin has retired as a JMU kinesiology teaching staff member, but he continues to work with JMU athletic teams in a sports psychology role. He was with the team at Maine for a special team presentation to Matthews in recognition of the coach's accomplishment.
JMU'S COACHING RECORDS
Coach (Years) W-L Pct. NCAA
Mickey Matthews (1999-Pres.) 96-61 .611 6
Challace McMillin (1972-84) 67-56-1 .544 0
Joe Purzycki (1985-90) 34-30-2 .530 1
Rip Scherer (1991-94) 29-19 .604 2
Alex Wood (1995-98) 23-22 .511 1
* Challace McMillin's listed coaching record at JMU does not include the program's inaugural football season of 1972 when the team's schedule did not include the minimum number of games to constitute an NCAA-recognized varsity football season. JMU's 1972 team played five games against a mixture of college varsity and junior varsity and prep-school teams.
JMU UNDER MATTHEWS
Year Overall Conf.
1999 8-4 7-1 NCAA
2000 6-5 4-4
2001 2-9 0-9
2002 5-7 3-6
2003 6-6 4-5
2004 13-2 7-1 NCAA Title
2005 7-4 5-3
2006 9-3 7-1 NCAA
2007 8-4 6-2 NCAA
2008 12-2 8-0 NCAA
2009 6-5 4-4
2010 6-5 3-5
2011 8-5 5-3 NCAA
Totals 96-61 63-44